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A Photojournalist Looks Back on the Challenger Space Shuttle Disaster After 30 Years


Today marks the 30th anniversary of the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster. On January 28th, 1986, the NASA Space Shuttle orbiter Challenger broke up 73 into its flight into space, killing the 7 astronauts on board.

Orlando Sentinel photojournalist Red Huber was covering the launch that day. In the 4-minute video above, Huber reflects on the event and shares what he remembers from shooting that fateful assignment.

When the vehicle disintegrated, some of the observers around Huber — those who had never seen a launch in person before — made remarks about how cool and beautiful the launch was. But Huber, who had attended and photographed decades of launches, knew that something was gravely wrong.

“I knew right then that this was a disaster, Huber says.

NASA's photo of the Challenger disaster.
NASA’s famous photo of the Challenger disaster.

The loss was especially hard for a photographer like Huber, since he had followed the astronauts throughout their training process. Through his photo assignments, Huber developed relationships with them.

“I’ve got to document this moment,” Huber says,” but in the other side of me, I think ‘oh my gosh’… I think about all the people I got to meet. It kind of personalizes it.”

“As a photojournalist you have to stay down the middle and separate. You can’t let your emotions affect the photograph. Then it becomes not a true moment. But I still captured from my angle what I saw.”

(via Orlando Sentinel via Fstoppers)